Meaningful patterns of information in the brain revealed through analysis of errors

Alex Woolgar, Nadene Dermody, Soheil Afshar, Mark A. Williams and Anina N. Rich

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Jul 02, 2019
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Received Date: 24th May 19

Great excitement has surrounded our ability to decode task information from human brain activity patterns, reinforcing the dominant view of the brain as an information processor. We tested a fundamental but overlooked assumption: that such decodable information is actually used by the brain to generate cognition and behaviour. Participants performed a challenging stimulus-response task during fMRI. Our novel analyses trained a pattern classifier on data from correct trials, and used it to examine stimulus and rule coding on error trials. There was a striking interaction in which frontoparietal cortex systematically represented incorrect rule but correct stimulus information when participants used the wrong rule, and incorrect stimulus but correct rule information on other types of errors. Visual cortex, by contrast, did not code incorrect information on error. Thus behaviour was tightly linked to coding in frontoparietal cortex and only weakly linked to coding in visual cortex. Human behaviour may indeed result from information-like patterns of activity in the brain, but this relationship is stronger in some brain regions than in others. Testing for information coding on error can help establish which patterns constitute behaviourally-meaningful information.

Read in full at BioRxiv.


This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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